week 1 / cast time again

Five days after surgery I was off to the cast clinic for a check-up and a proper cast. I gave some thought to the color to get, but all my deliberations kept bringing me back to black. So basic. I’m going to try to do some artwork on the cast, and at least a black background always looks good. Don’t worry, I’ll post anything I manage to add to the cast. Are you surprised?

The cast clinic runs a bit like a factory assembly line with four people sitting on either side of two beds waiting for their turn with the surgeon. Very efficient for the doctor, less efficient for the patients, but what’s new? After waiting an appropriate and boring length of time, my partial cast from surgery was removed and I was able to wash and touch my arm. That felt good, especially knowing that soon enough those two activities would be unavailable to my poor left forearm. I was surprised to see how swollen my hand and wrist were since they felt pretty normal. For some reason I developed a HUGE amount of bruising after surgery. I’m talking wife-abuse talk-to-social-services kind of bruising. Fortunately no one even seemed to notice. Apparently it’s fairly “normal” even if I didn’t get it last time. Good thing I like color. You don’t get the full effect here – hospital lighting is so useless! I think you can get an idea of the effected area. Even my palm turned purple! I forgot how creepy the pin sticking out of my hand would look. (Think Frankenstein on a very small-scale.) Probably because the mind is good at forgetting things that are unpleasant, and I classify this pin as “unpleasant”. (I decided against a close up shot of the pin because I thought I might make you sick.)

Surgery / yikes!

Wednesday: I had my second carpo-metacarpal arthroplasty. I’m writing this a few hours post surgery, since the drugs from the hospital haven’t completely worn off yet. Nice trick. The only thing is, I know what’s coming… Last June when I had my surgery I arrived home and zipped off an email to my family to let them know how great I was feeling. Little did I realize how I’d feel in a few hours! So, this might be it for a few days.

I had to be at the hospital 3 hours ahead of the scheduled surgery, which meant 9:50 a.m. Really – 3 hours to do some paperwork and WAIT? So boring. I wish they’d let you whip in there 20 minutes ahead of time, but apparently they prefer the patients to do the waiting, not the hospital staff. Last June I only had to be there an hour and 40 minutes ahead of time. Who do I speak to about this poor planning? Here are my hands in the morning:

hand comparison pre-surgery

unmatched hands

hand which had sugery in June

right hand post surgery

hand ready for surgery

left hand pre surgery

I checked into the hospital at 10:15 and found out there was nowhere to safely store my iPad. That meant no “Game of Thrones” for me while I was waiting.

surgery scheduled!

It’s been 28 weeks since I had surgery on my right thumb (carpo-metacarpal arthoplasty, but you probably remembered that). Progress has been slow and steady and absolutely amazing. The most astounding effect of the surgery has been the difference it has made to my right arm, right shoulder and the right side of my back. The right side feels normal and my left side feels knotted and twisted by comparison. This is noticeable because for years my back has felt knotted and twisted and I couldn’t figure out what I was doing to cause it. Who could imagine that it could be because the joint at the base of my thumb was fused? I know that body parts are not isolated – everything is connected, but this is an extreme example as far as I’m concerned. The week before Christmas I met with my surgeon, and together we booked a surgery date for my left thumb – February 1. And yes, I’m nervous and

18 weeks post thumb surgery

Just realized that I haven’t said anything about my thumb – post surgery – for quite a while. This is a good thing, as it means it is gradually returning to normal function. I’ve done physio for the past 8 weeks and the results have been very encouraging. I have a good range of motion in my hand and can do most “normal” activities. Strength building my wrist is the new focus. As I continue to use my hand as normally as possible, it continues to improve. Yoga provides challenges as well as opportunities for improvement.

With the positive success of my surgery, I am considering having a carpo metacarpal arthoplasty on my left hand in the new year. I need to get through the Christmas baking season first. Of course, this drives me to keep working on a number of projects which will be put on hold in the aftermath of the surgery. In the long run I know this will all be worthwhile.

Not sure if you can truly appreciate the difference in my hands from these photos, but I can feel a tremendous improvement.

side view of my hands

open view of my hands